Chief White House medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday that his Republican detractors are in reality criticizing science when they lambaste his work on the coronavirus pandemic, because “I represent science.”
In an interview with CBS “Face the Nation” host Margaret Brennan, Dr. Fauci said that “anybody who’s looking at this carefully realizes that there’s a distinct anti-science flavor to this.”
“So if they get up and criticize science, nobody’s going to know what they’re talking about. But if they get up and really aim their bullets at Tony Fauci, well, people could recognize there’s a person there. There’s a face, there’s a voice you can recognize, you see him on television,” Dr. Fauci said, according to a transcript released Sunday.
“So it’s easy to criticize, but they’re really criticizing science, because I represent science,” he said. “That’s dangerous.”
Asked whether Republicans had made him a “scapegoat to deflect from President [Donald] Trump,” Dr. Fauci agreed, saying “you have to be asleep not to figure that one out.”
His comments came amid an ongoing dispute with Senate Republicans, led by Sens. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, over whether the National Institutes of Health funded gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in central China.
At an Oct. 27 hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Mr. Cruz asked Attorney General Merrick B. Garland if he was prosecuting Dr. Fauci for lying to Congress. Mr. Garland said he could not comment on ongoing investigations.
Dr. Fauci swung back Sunday with a reference to the Jan. 6 rioting at the U.S. Capitol: “I have to laugh at that. I should be prosecuted? What happened on Jan. 6, senator?”
He blasted what he called the “completely outlandish politicization” of the disease, saying he worried that “lies about science” are being “normalized” as they spread on social media.
“So scientists try to say, ‘This is the truth, and it’s based on data.’ That’s what we live by, data, evidence, truth. And then you all of a sudden have permeating in society, it is OK to say anything you want that is patently, obviously wrong,” Dr. Fauci said. “And if you say it long enough and often enough and you get social media involved, then everybody — not everybody, X percent of the population — starts believing it.”
Asked about whether he had a “blind spot” about the extent of the U.S. spread of COVID-19 in early 2020, Dr. Fauci denied it, saying “it wasn’t a blind spot because we weren’t testing.”
Dr. Fauci also has been criticized for his initial recommendation against mask-wearing, which he said was based on a lack of information about the asymptomatic spread of the virus.
“And that’s the reason why back in January and February , we’re saying we’re not so sure you really need masks because we didn’t realize at the time that there was being asymptomatic spread,” he said. “That was one of the real reasons. As soon as that became clear, there was no doubt you should be wearing a mask.”